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(en) US, POG* Report from Pittsburgh Counter-recruitment conference

Date Tue, 18 Apr 2006 12:45:01 +0300


Anti-War ActivismOn April 7-9, Pittsburgh Organizing Group
(POG) in conjunction with the Progressive Student Alliance hosted
a Regional Counter Recruitment conference at Carnegie Mellon
University. 120 people attended the weekends events representing 23
cities. The weekend kicked off with a presentation and slideshow on
POG's campaign on Friday night. Saturday was filled with workshops,
beginning with understanding the overall framework and marketing
strategies of military recruitment, and the militarization of high
schools, which examined the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
test and the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps.
It was presented by Janine Schwab of American Friends
Services Committee Youth and Militarism Program and Steve
Theberge of the War Resister's League Youth and
Counter-Militarism Program.

Below a basic rundown of what occured at the Pgh counter military
recruitment conference. POG hopes to be able to send out a
synopsis of ideas and discussions that came out of the various
workshops and presentations.

Report back from Pgh Counter-recruitment conference

On April 7-9, Pittsburgh Organizing Group (POG) in conjunction
with the Progressive Student Alliance hosted a Regional Counter
Recruitment conference at Carnegie Mellon University. 120 people
attended the weekends events representing 23 cities. The weekend
kicked off with a presentation and slideshow on POG's
campaign on Friday night. Saturday was filled with workshops,
beginning with understanding the overall framework and marketing
strategies of military recruitment, and the militarization of high
schools, which examined the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude
Battery test and the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps. It was
presented by Janine Schwab of American Friends Services
Committee Youth and Militarism Program and Steve Theberge of
the War Resister's League Youth and Counter-Militarism Program.

Next, the conference went mobile, marching from CMU to the
Oakland recruiting center for a "hands-on workshop." Equipped with
signs, drums, pickets and bullhorns, conference participants joined
local activists in entering a unlocked station and surprised recruiters.
(This was the first time since POG started publicly protesting the
station that its doors were open to the public.) Recruiters quickly
locked the inner doors and a stand off of sorts ensued with the
stairwell remaining blocked. Pittsburgh police responded to the
recruiters calls for help and eventually around 2 dozen showed up,
some forming a line between protesters and the station.

Building upon the morning's foundation and lunch, during which
people took the opportunity to meet and get to know activists from
other cities, we moved to workshops focusing on
counter-recruitment strategies. There was a variety of workshops to
choose from, depending on specific area of focus. Some were
broader, looking at the military industrial-academic complex at
CMU, presented by Daniel Papasian, Lillian Bertram, and David
Meieran, all former or current CMU students; advanced strategies in
counter recruitment, presented by POG; and others looking at how
we can more effectively use the media in our efforts, put on by POG
members Marie Skoczylas and Jeremy Shenk, and win the
“Battle of the Story”, using art, images, subvertizing, spoken
word and culture to organize, counter recruiting PR and overthrow
the empire, facilitated by David Solnit.. Ed Bortz and Limiel Hodge
of Conscience hosted a workshop on conscientious objection, and
Jon Webb, also of Conscience, presented a workshop on No Child
Left Behind and the Opt-Out form. Angela Kelly, Organizing
Associate for the Student Peace Action Network, and Saif Rahman,
Peace and Student Movements Coordinator at the Institute for
Policy Studies, as well as other members of the National Youth &
Student Peace Coalition facilitated a workshop on "Books not
Bombs." After dinner, conference-goers attended a sneak preview
screening of "Sir, No Sir!" and later listened to Ryan Harvey and
Evan Greer of Riotfolk play in nearby Bloomfield.

Sunday's panel discussions moved the collective conversations
further. The first was a look at counter-recruitment strategies from a
national perspective, with panelists from counter recruitment groups
in Cleveland, DC, San Francisco, New York, and Pittsburgh, and
included an engaging and fruitful discussion on tactics.

The second looked specifically at the state's crackdown on
dissent, and the various tactics used in repression; legal, political,
information warfare, physical. Panelists included Tariq Khan, Air
Force veteran and George Mason University student, David Meieran
of POG and Save Our Civil Liberties, and Mike Healey of the
National Lawyers Guild. It was framed within a historical context,
addressing tactics the state used in disrupting labor struggles, the
Black Panthers, and many others, emphasizing that anytime social
movements are effective, they are a threat to those in power and will
be repressed. The point of this panel was to better understand the
ways the state attempts to break social movements, and offer
suggestions on ways to shield ourselves from repression.

On Sunday afternoon, Steve Theberge of the War Resisters League
and NotYour Soldier led a workshop on how to host a “Not Your
Soldier Action Camp”- a counter recruitment gathering geared
specifically toward young people. It covered practical tips for logistics
and where to get resources, tips on outreach, and suggestions on
how to create appropriate topics for participants.

There was also a planning session for the UPRISE Counter
Recruitment Tour that is scheduled to tour 22 cities in the Rustbelt
starting September 15. The tour is aimed at advancing CR efforts
and linking together the issues that drive war, the economic
depression of the Rustbelt, and military recruitment.

The conference was far more than the workshops it was filled with,
it was a space and time for people to build ties with each other, to
provide opportunity for informal discussions, sharing experiences,
and strategizing, to provide a place of self-reflection to those already
active in the CR movement, and to help provide the tools to begin
efforts in this direction to those not already active, and it succeeded
in accomplishing these goals. Folks from Pittsburgh came, as well as
those from as far away as Houston and San Francisco, and there
were many new faces ready to engage in CR work. We hope that
Counter Recruitment, both within Pittsburgh, and between cities,
will grow stronger as a result of the conference, and we hope for
greater solidarity and success in the CR movement nationally as a
result. The conference also included a plethora of take home CR
materials that dozens of individuals brought from their local efforts.

It took lots of people to make this conference the success that it was,
and POG would like to thank Conscience, the Thomas Merton
Center, the TMC Anti-War Committee, Progressive Student
Alliance, Voices for Animals, Student Peace Action Network, and
AFSC Youth and Militarism Program for sponsoring the event, DC
folks for the tasty drinks, Allegro Hearth Bakery for donating so
many yummy loaves of bread and other goodies, everyone who
helped out leading up to or during the weekend, and all those who
participated in the conference. All excess food was donated to Food
Not Bombs.

For more information about the various workshops and the related
campaigns, as well as links to audio, photos and related resources,
visit
http://www.organizepittsburgh.org/conference
You can contact us at pog@mutualaid.org

========================================
* POG [Pittsburgh Organizing Group] are anti authoritarian initiative
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